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Two Bonteheuwel women overcome their trials to achieve degrees

Shanel Hendricks will be joining Livingstone Hospital in Port Elizabeth following her achievement in obtaining an MBChB from Stellenbosch University. Picture:

Shanel Hendricks will be joining Livingstone Hospital in Port Elizabeth following her achievement in obtaining an MBChB from Stellenbosch University. Picture:

Published Dec 20, 2021


Cape Town - Two women from Bonteheuwel have defied the odds and made it through extreme conditions to graduate from university.

Shanel Hendricks has been awarded a MBChB – a Bachelor's Degree in medicine and surgery – from Stellenbosch University, while Charne Samuels finished her post-graduate degree in finance and accounting from UCT.

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Being from Bonteheuwel, the two graduates both faced challenges while they were studying; however, they were determined to persevere to the end.

“I’ve always said circumstances don't have to determine my future. I really hope that my story can plant a seed in somebody’s life to show that it is possible,” Hendricks said.

Hendricks experienced stereotypes about being from Bonteheuwel but she never let that deter her from achieving her goals.

“Bonteheuwel is well known for its crime, gangsterism, drug addiction and unemployment. I can take my hat off to my parents for raising me in such a way that I didn’t fall into the trap of any of that,” Hendricks said.

After losing her father she relied heavily on support from her family and her teachers at Bonteheuwel High School.

Her sister, Anthea Hendricks, said they did their best to encourage her.

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“We are very close as a family, we gave a lot of emotional support and encouraged her whenever she felt down or felt like she couldn’t achieve the results that she wanted.”

Bonteheuwel High principal Nicola Pather said she knew Shanel had potential when she was in Grade 9 and that is when the school started to rally behind her. She assisted the Hendricks family when Shanel was placed in a hostel by providing her with necessities.

“I know the community is extremely proud, so is the school and the learners and I know she will plough back into the Bonteheuwel community, especially for the little ones and senior citizens,” Pather said.

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For Charne Samuels, who went to Harold Cressy High School, the Covid-19 pandemic had an impact on her studies.

“At UCT there were a lot of strikes and protest action, which took a toll on my studies. Covid-19 also presented challenges – doing the online learning was hard and I’m surprised that I graduated last year because it’s difficult to learn on your own and not have anyone to help you,” Samuels said.

Charne was raised by single mother Priscilla Samuels, who encouraged her to pursue extra mural activities as a child.

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“It’s been a tough few years and because I’m a pensioner, we sacrificed a lot but I think Charne’s got a good head on her shoulders to work with money and I think she will be successful with whatever the future has to offer her,” Priscilla said.

CHARNE Samuels has been offered a position at Deloitte after receiving her post graduate degree in finance and accounting from UCT.

Samuels hopes to inspire others with her achievement: “I want to use my degree to inspire others, hopefully some little girl or some little boy from Bonteheuwel will also see my story and be inspired by it.

“I’ve learnt that in life, it’s not about where you come from but where you’re going so if you just believe that you can and don’t listen to the people around you saying you’re not worthy, you can be successful even if you’re from Bonteheuwel,” Samuels said.

Angus McKenzie, Bonteheuwel ward councillor, has been very vocal about their achievements.

“My encouragement to these two young people is that I want to see them come back into their community and give back. I want to see more and more young people come back and pass it on to other young people,” McKenzie said.

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